Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Vive la [Wiff] France

Kitchen gossip here inevitably shifts towards travel tales. Richard Hoooper who has been back in the kitchen here since November last year, recently came up with the question of ‘where you would take a fellow visitor for their first taste of Paris?.... when I met a jetlagged Diane at the airport on our first visit we dropped our bags at Henri Quatre and I whisked her off into the Metro to emerge at Place de la Concorde with the city framed in all its glory- then off to la Palette for a hot grog. Any contributions on this auspicious day?

It was also on this trip that we surprisingly found that with the Franc at 9.5 to the dollar we were able to purchase a full batterie de cuisine at Dehilerin and not have to go to jail for credit card fraud. Now after nearly 30 years they have finally been re-lined. Most of them had nickel or stainless steel linings and over the years more and more were being retired to the shed as I could not find anyone prepared to remove the remains of the old linings and re-do them.

Neil from At My Table suggested Carroll Electroplating in Brunswick and while we were in Turkey all the pots were re-lined and polished to a very shmicko standard. They do a great job re-lining them very thickly in tin so any repeats will be easy.

I know we are getting bombarded by truffle stories but Bastille Day perhaps gives a little extra dispensation to truffle matters. It is very heartening to learn that Chinese truffles have been put on the prohibited list of imports fresh into Australia since 2009. Tuber Sinesis [the Chinese Truffle] looks just like Tuber Melanospornum [Perigord Truffle] making it very hard to distinguish them from real thing except for the fact that they have hardly any flavour or scent. They are also less than $100 per kg and so could be very tempting to unscrupulous dealers. I can remember carpetbaggers targeting expensive restaurants over the years with very expensive black golf balls and eating also a lot of dodgy dishes. In those days not many chefs had been exposed to the real thing and substitution was rife . Many hundreds of kilos of Chinese truffle is still exported to Britain each year but surprisingly none seem to be sold? Its hard to get the figures from AQUIS as to how much has been imported to Australia in recent years but I suspect quite a bit.

The flavour of truffles seems to elude some and sadly restaurateurs not wishing to disappoint diners are still lacing perfectly good Perigord truffle with truffle oil. There is a difference between the flavour of truffle and its aroma. Just as with a lemon the aroma of the lemon oil in the rind and the flavour of the juice are quite different. Together they are the complex experience that is a lemon.

With truffles sometimes they have very little aroma but strong flavour and also some have a very good aroma but virtually no flavour. When buying truffle a good dealer will offer you a tiny shard for tasting as well as testing the aroma. But thankfully no more cheap Tuber Cinesis to devalue the experience.
 Vive la difference ...

Photos at Truffle Farm by Richard Hoooper


steve said...

Hi George-nice post. We are knee deep in truffle season at the moment here.
I'm hitching my wagon to the truffle express finally and am planning a truffle dinner or lunch in the next month.
Your point on the scent and flavour is a good one amd I reckon its why some epople just dont get all the hoopla about truffles as apparently they have been dudded.
We've been enjoying some 'not-truffles' that are found under a mates Spanish hazelnut trees. Look and smell like truffles (though small) but very little flavour at all.

Thermomixer said...

When Annie & I went to Paris last year, the first place I dragged her to was Petrossian for a little tin of caviar and some of their smoked/cured fish. A little luxury that doesn't come our way.

The time before I went to Le Dome for a sizable bouillabaisse and pastis.

Just about any of the traiteurs would probably do for me.

My nephew worked for Carroll's many years ago. I love the way that old trays/dishes/pots are suddenly transformed.

Thanks for the news about Chinese truffles being prohibited here. Tony was telling us a couple of years ago about how prolific they are.

Keep up the great posts.

Au revoir

steve said...

Hi george-Today got my first batch of tassie truffles and I'm as excited as Big Kev!